What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?

What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?

If tooth sensitivity keeps you from enjoying the foods and drinks you love most, you need to see your dentist. Having sensitive teeth is no joke. You feel pain when you drink hot liquids or cold liquids. You also feel these sensations when brushing your teeth, breathing air in through your mouth, eating sweet foods or even just touching a particular tooth. The only sure way to know what causes your tooth sensitivity is to visit your dental care professional for an exam.

Take Good Care of Your Tooth Enamel

Your tooth enamel is like an armor protecting sensitive tissues of the tooth. It is a hard outer layer, but one prone to damage. When enamel wears away it leaves the tooth vulnerable to things you eat and drink. So consider it one of your top oral health priorities to protect this enamel and prevent its erosion. When you maintain strong enamel on your teeth, you do not experience tooth sensitivity.

Below are some tips for protecting this important outer layer on each tooth:

Do not brush too hard.
Brushing your teeth twice daily is very important for good oral health. But you can exert too much pressure when you do so. Baring down hard on each tooth with even a soft toothbrush can wear enamel away, particularly at the gum line.

To avoid brushing your enamel away, use only a soft bristled toothbrush. Apply it to your teeth in a back and forth motion with the brush bristles at a 45-degree angle to your gum. By gently brushing your teeth twice each day, you preserve healthy teeth and gums while keeping your enamel where it belongs.

Avoid acidic beverages and foods.
Drinking sodas and eating sticky candies are two major causes of tooth enamel erosion. The same is true of a variety of foods and drinks you consume each day. For your best oral health, avoid high-sugar carbs in your diet, stay away from sodas and snack on something besides sticky candies. Good snack suggestions to foster better enamel health and less tooth sensitivity include:

  • Fibrous fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Milk
  • Plain yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Sugarless gum
  • Green or black tea

Healthy food choices, like those above, keep your mouth moist and snack cravings at bay. But they do not damage tooth enamel or cause tooth sensitivity like sugary, high carb choices. At the same time, these foods help fight bacteria and acids that decay teeth. Snacking like this can be healthy as it encourages production of plaque-fighting saliva in your mouth while not eroding your enamel.

When you have something sugary or full of carbs as a snack, do not brush your teeth right away. Wait about an hour to do so.

Stop clenching your teeth.
Teeth grinding or clenching also wears away enamel and leads to tooth sensitivity. Stress usually causes this problem. So if you notice you grind or clench your teeth in your sleep or throughout the day, find ways to reduce your stress. Talk to your dentist, too. They can provide a mouth guard to protect your teeth from this behavior.

Stop bleaching your teeth.
Over-the-counter teeth whitening products can cause tooth sensitivity. But this type of sensitivity is usually temporary. Simply avoid applying bleaching solutions, toothpastes or gels until your teeth recover. Talk to your dentist to learn more about how whitening affects your teeth and possible in-office teeth whitening alternatives to attain pearly whites without the damage.

Ask the dentist if your gums are receding or shrinking.
It is more common for people over the age of 40 to experience gum recession. But anyone of any age can have this problem. When gums pull away from your teeth and expose your tooth roots, your affected teeth feel sensitive. Roots do not have protective enamel like the rest of your tooth surfaces.

Receding gums can occur for a variety of reasons. Gum disease is one such cause. Over-brushing your teeth is another. Possible solutions include a gum graft that moves tissue from other parts of your mouth to the area where your gums receded.

Ask your dentist about gum disease.
When plaque and tartar build up on your teeth, your gums recede. As a result, you possibly experience teeth sensitivity. This disease also destroys the supportive structures holding your teeth in place. For treatment, your dentist provides a professional deep cleaning called scaling and root planing. You possibly need other treatments like medication or surgery, too.

Have an oral exam to check for a cracked tooth or filling.
Breaking a tooth often causes a crack to penetrate the tissues to your root. This usually causes tooth sensitivity when you drink cold beverages or eat cold foods. Your dentist chooses the best solution for this problem after a dental exam. He can fill a tooth with a small crack. But if the crack extends beyond your gum line, you face possible tooth extraction.

Treating Your Tooth Sensitivity

Once your dentist finds the cause of your tooth sensitivity, you simply need the right treatment for this pain to go away. Treatments include:

  • Toothpaste for sensitive teeth
  • Fillings over exposed roots
  • Sealants
  • Fluoride gel
  • Desensitizing dental paste
  • Mouthguard for teeth grinding
  • Root canal therapy

Tooth Sensitivity Treatment in Raleigh and Goldsboro, North Carolina

Carolina Dental Arts, with two locations in Raleigh and one in Goldsboro, treats tooth sensitivity. Schedule your dental exam today to find the cause of your problem and learn about treatment solutions. Call us at 919-670-4944 for scheduling in our Glenwood South office in Raleigh, at (984) 242-0568 for the New Bern Avenue location in Raleigh, or 919-778-0098 for Goldsboro appointments.